No inquest will be conducted into the death of Shanell Thomas, who was shot and killed during a police operation in Cassada Gardens on February 10.
A post-mortem conducted on his body on Wednesday, March 2, revealed that he died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds. The examination was conducted by pathologist Dr. Petra Miller-Nanton.
Earlier this week, attorney Leon Chaku Symister reiterated a call for an inquiry into Thomas’ death, which he identified as “the eighth extra-judicial killing in eight years.”
He said that Antigua and Barbuda, as a member of the Organization of American States (OAS) – and, by extension, of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights – has “a legal obligation to conduct a full, fair and impartial inquiry into this incident.”
Usually, an inquest is conducted to determine whether a killing was accidental or whether a person died by misadventure or another reason. An inquest might also be held if a cause of death cannot be determined.
Thomas, 34, had escaped the prison farm at Diamonds Estate on Tuesday, February 8. The Police later described him as being armed and dangerous after a reported exchange of gunfire the following night.
As justification for shooting him on the night in question, the Police said that, when confronted, Thomas pulled a “shiny object” from his waist – later claimed to be a knife.
However, a police insider has told REAL News that Thomas could have been shot in the legs, thereby disabling him, rather than fatally hit in the chest.
“It cannot be reasonable for the Police to shoot to death a man with a knife when he was not endangering the life of anyone,” the source says.
Symister has reminded the public that the penalty for escaping lawful custody is one year in prison and said that Thomas did not deserve the death penalty.